At this center of excellence, we save limbs and lives. If you have circulation and blood vessel disorders, our expertise can help. Early intervention helps you stay healthy and live well. The right care can prevent the heartbreaking need to amputate an affected foot, arm, or other part of your body.
The Center for Limb Preservation is one of several distinguished centers within the innovative WVU Heart and Vascular Institute tower. Our vascular surgeons and other care providers apply high-level technology, research, scientific, medical, and surgical expertise to your care. We specialize in conditions that affect your vascular system (veins and arteries) and circulation (blood flow). Our focus is on upper and lower limbs (arms and legs) and other areas beyond your heart and brain.
Under the leadership of Luke Marone, MD, some of the nation’s best surgeons and specialists provide comprehensive care – from acute intervention for blocked blood flow to team-guided, whole-health treatment plans. The vascular team works closely with other specialties, ranging from cardiology to interventional radiology to neurology (brain) and rehabilitation experts.
Our teams take an integrated approach. We focus on your total health – not just one area of your body. A clot or narrowed vessel in your leg can lead to damage in your limbs or elsewhere. It can cause stroke, heart attack, or other serious disease. We’ll coordinate your care and services in a collaborative, positive, and proactively healing environment.
Lifesaving care, convenient and close
We make top-tier care easier. Our home is in the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute tower on the Morgantown campus. Vascular care, plus multi-specialty expertise and services, are in one convenient place. You can get more done in one visit, from imaging and lab work through cross-specialty consultation and care.
You’ll also find our experts in accessible inpatient and outpatient locations throughout the West Virginia region.
Some vascular diseases – such as atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) – don’t have symptoms until arteries are partly or totally blocked. These silent threats can lead to slow-healing wounds, brain and heart attack, and other risks. Screening, expert evaluation, and timely, close-to-home response can make a lifesaving, limb-preserving difference.
To enhance access, WVU Medicine experts stay connected to communities near you. We also educate doctors, care providers, and communities about how to identify and respond to vascular conditions earlier when they’re most treatable.
Understanding limb preservation
Narrowed blood vessels restrict blood flow to parts of your body – from your head to your feet – starving them of oxygen-rich blood. You may have symptoms such as claudication (pain when walking). Disorders can get worse quickly. Gangrene, potentially fatal dying tissue, can occur. Leg clots can travel to your heart or brain. In some instances, surgeons may need to amputate a limb to save the rest of a limb or your life.
At WVU Medicine, we offer effective intervention to identify and treat problems early. Vascular disease is the most common cause of limb loss. Other conditions can also endanger all or part of a finger, a toe, a foot, an arm, or a leg.
Conditions that can lead to limb loss include:
- Poor blood circulation. Atherosclerosis, Raynaud’s, diabetes, kidney disease, and other conditions can damage blood vessels and limit or block circulation.
- Heart and brain arterial diseases. Coronary artery disease (heart) or carotid artery disease (brain) harm your blood vessels and raise your risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Common in people over 50, PAD can narrow arteries in your arms, legs and pelvis. If these blood vessels become blocked, you may experience numbness, pain and infections.
- Accidental injury. Traffic accidents, burns, bites, military combat, frostbite, or other traumas can cause limb loss or infections and injuries leading to limb loss – especially without fast, expert intervention.
- Other causes. Some cancers can lead to a need for amputation. Birth defects can also result in missing or defective limbs.
Whatever the cause, our vascular surgeons and care teams treat you with skill and compassion. Our specialized professionals are passionate about helping you. We’ll keep you involved in your care. We go to great lengths to promote healing and help you have the best possible health and quality of life.
Losing a limb is an emotional, life-changing event. When it is necessary, our doctors and care teams offer full support. We use advanced therapies, plus medicine, prosthetics, counseling, and rehabilitation, as needed, to ease and speed your return to everyday life.
Vascular surgery reaches new heights
Surgery in the unique WVU Heart and Vascular Institute tower orchestrates technology, teamwork, and care. There are 10 operating rooms and sophisticated procedure rooms, clinics, offices, and patient rooms – from ICU to other levels of medical-surgical care – in one location.
Doctors operate in hybrid surgical suites – the future of exceptional care. These complex environments enable a team of surgeons, interventional radiologists, nurses, anesthesiologists, and technicians to work seamlessly together. Advanced imaging and other equipment allow us to perform a full range of procedures – from endovascular to open surgery – in one room. Many complex vascular surgeries are now minimally invasive. That helps you get well sooner. Learn more about vascular surgery.
Services we offer
WVU Medicine vascular team experts provide timely diagnosis and treatment, including inpatient and outpatient care. Services range from evaluation to medical and surgical therapies, and rehabilitation.
Conditions we treat include:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is a bulging, weak spot in any blood vessel of your body that may rupture.
- Atherosclerosis. Plaque buildup restricts or blocks blood flow in your arteries.
- Carotid arterial disease. This condition narrows blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to your brain.
- Peripheral arterial disease. This condition is a slow, progressive circulation disorder that affects your brain, legs, and feet.
- Varicose veins. Enlarged, twisted veins can develop throughout your body and often in your legs. They can become heavy and painful.
- Venous thrombosis. This is a blood clot that blocks a vein.
The focus of our center is to keep blood moving. This improves your ability to walk or regain other lost abilities. In severe conditions – such as traumatic injuries, gangrene, or other disease and tissue damage – we’ll do all we can to preserve the limb.
We provide basic and advanced endovascular therapies, including:
- Angioplasty – a procedure that widens blood vessels with a balloon-tipped catheter
- Stents – narrow tubes that provide structural blood vessel support
- Atherectomy – surgeons shave away blockages within an artery using a tiny device attached to a slim, tube-like catheter
- Trans-tibial (below the knee) and pedal (foot and arch circulation) interventions
WVU Medicine surgeons also perform open bypass procedures when indicated, which use a graft to redirect blood flow. We also treat people with kidney disease, including creating and maintaining blood vessel access for dialysis.
Limb loss is preventable. Using advanced technology, medical and minimally invasive vascular surgery procedures, WVU Medicine vascular surgeons can help people with peripheral arterial disease and other circulatory issues.
Preventing limb loss starts with you. To protect your veins, arteries and limbs:
- See your primary care provider regularly and keep him or her fully informed.
- Develop healthy lifestyle habits, including appropriate diet, exercise, and activity.
- Take medications exactly as prescribed.
- Quit smoking – one of the most important things you can do.
- Manage risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and kidney disease.
If you smoke or have a family history of vascular disease, talk to a primary care provider about seeing a vascular surgeon.
Call 911 or visit the emergency department if you notice these warning signs:
- Blue or white feet/toes
- Serious foot infection
- Stroke symptoms such as arm weakness, drooping face, or difficulty speaking and understanding
- Sudden belly or chest pain, especially with a history of aneurysms
- Sudden, persistent leg, or foot pain
The Center for Limb Preservation team includes vascular surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists, specialized nurses, healthcare technology professionals, and others with high-level expertise. We work across disciplines to tailor care to your needs. Meet our team.